So you are going to Morocco? You are in for the ride of a lifetime!
Did you know it’s possible to spend a night in the Sahara Desert? It’s a fabulous thing to do and we have some tried and tested tips for what to wear on a camel ride in Morocco.
Morocco is a totally intoxicating country. As soon as I knew we were Morocco bound, Sahara Desert Trips from Marrakech were all I could think about and the first thing we did.
It was our only Splurge – if only I’d had my handy Sahara Desert Trip Packing List beforehand.
- It’s no surprise there are different kinds of Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech. You can read about them and book them in this section.
- What to expect on a Sahara Desert Tour
- Best Sahara Desert Tours as curated by us.
- The Camel Ride into the Sahara Desert at the end of Day 2 of our 3 Day Tour.
- Your Morocco Desert Trip Packing List
It’s no surprise there are different kinds of Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech. You can read about them and book them in this section.
All of the tours below (apart from one) are Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech to Merzouga on the edge of the Sahara Desert. From there you transfer to camels and ride to spend a night in the Sahara. The camel ride and desert camp is included in the overall cost and is organised for you as part of the tour.
If you are already at Merzouga, or intend driving there in your own vehicle, this is the Sahara Desert tour to book.
We used Camel Trekking who don’t seem to offer the 3 day trip we took any more, although you could ask them. We dealt with Omar and he was trustworthy in our dealings of paying a deposit etc.
A word about Trustworthy Sahara Desert Tour Booking Agents and Tours.
You could wait until arriving in Marrakech to book your desert tour. In other places I am quite confident in doing this but in Marrakech I was happy that we had taken the time to research the hell out of it and READ ALL THE REVIEWS before arriving. We knew what we were paying for and what to expect, so we could relax and enjoy with no rude shocks.
What to expect on a Sahara Desert Tour
It is common on most desert tours to pay for your own drinks and lunch. Breakfast and Dinner was included on our trip. Be aware that even if you are paying for your own lunch and drinks it is expected that you do so at an establishment pre-arranged by the tour company. There is no doubt the guide/company gets a kick back from the proprietor. We went with the flow and obliged. I guess it is possible to eat elsewhere, but it might create friction with the guide or driver who is looking after you and facilitating your trip. I am sure we could have eaten cheaper on our trip, but we were happy with the standard of food we ate and no-one got desert belly.
If there is a Berber Market being held in a town you drive through, apply pressure to stop and visit. The guide would probably prefer to take you somewhere where he can earn commission but if enough of you apply pressure he might capitulate.
Best Sahara Desert Tours as curated by us.
3 day Viator Morocco desert trip. Similar to ours this gets good reviews but seems a little pricey.
3 day Get Your Guide private tour looks exactly like ours. It has good reviews and is cheaper than the Viator one above.
This Get Your Guide Tour is the Best Value Sahara Desert Tour and has good reviews. If your Sahara Desert Tour is not a big spend item (they can’t all be) and you don’t mind making the trip with up to 17 people (still a small group) this is the cheapest three day of the lot.
The Camel Ride into the Sahara Desert at the end of Day 2 of our 3 Day Tour.
In the afternoon of the second day of the trip, we left our 4WD tour vehicle behind in the mud brick town of Merzouga (560 km from Marrakech) on the edge of the Sahara, mounted our camels and rode off to our Morocco Sahara Desert Camp.
Read about the previous Day and the Day before arriving at Merzouga and transferring to the camels.
- Part 1 – Argan Oil and Mountains
- Part 2 – Atlas Mountains
- Part 3 – Ait Ben Haddou
- Part 4 – Dades Gorge and Todra Gorge
Read about the Camel Ride and Sahara Desert Camp
After 1.5 hours and with civilisation well and truly behind us, we pulled up at the desert camp. Nights are spent either snuggled under blankets in Winter in a Berber Tent or Alfresco on the sands with only stars above in Summer.
Your Morocco Desert Trip Packing List
When civilisation disappears behind those silent red dunes, you can luxuriate in the knowledge that you are prepared!
What you should NOT take into the desert.
The first thing to know even before leaving Marrakech is to leave big pieces of luggage behind, or if that is not possible you might simply have to lock them in the vehicle you arrive in. It’s not possible to take them on your camel and there is no other way into the desert camp.
Your bag will be slung from the camel’s saddle pommel. If it is too bulky or heavy the saddle might pull to one side. I’m a bit of a sook and would be afraid of falling off if that happened. Too much luggage would also encroach on your sitting space.
Riding a camel is uncomfortable and you won’t want the extra hassle – believe me.
I think a medium sized backpack would be ideal – but your tour company might have rules regarding this.
The list has been prepared with women in mind – men can omit the obvious!
What you should wear on a camel ride in Morocco.
- Clothes with zipped pockets. This has to be our No. 1 Tip. Our group of seven dropped a pair of sunglasses, a phone and had paper money blow out of a pocket never to be seen again. Luckily the camels missed the glasses and phone and our camel driver rescued them. Remember you can’t just get off your camel to pick stuff up – the driver controls the camels and usually the camel only sits at the beginning and end of the ride.
- Comfortable Clothes – Long and Loose is the name of the game for external clothing and comfortable bra and bikini briefs that won’t ride up your bum! A girl in our group wore short shorts and experienced chaffing and there was nowhere to purchase cream to relieve it. It seems silly to say it out loud but – there are no shops in the desert.
- A scarf that can be turned into a turban. It should be long enough so that it can be drawn across your face. This is not for show. Our driver tied mine for me and it kept the sand out of my nose and mouth when the wind started blowing.
- A tight fitting cap or hat if you do not want to wear a turban.
- Camera – It should be small enough to tuck securely into a pocket but easily accessible for on the go photos. If or when the sand starts blowing you don’t want to be fumbling for covers for an expensive camera. If you are taking a bigger camera, store it in your backpack and only use it when at the desert camp.
- Female Hygiene Items.
- Zip Lock Plastic Bag for used tampons and used wet wipes – unless you want the camel driver to have to dispose of them from the “kitty litter” toilets. Our toilet was a tent with a shallow pan of sand over which we squatted. I guess it got cleaned out after each group left! In our case we were the last trip of the season so I know it did.
- Wet Wipes – there is NO water at the camp, apart from what you bring with you.
- Imodium or similar (just in case) and any other medications you might possibly need.
- Paracetamol for those post ride aching muscles. You may have ridden a camel along a beach before, but this is different. Going up and down sand dunes for 1.5 hours takes a lot of hanging on with muscles you never knew you had previously. The next morning when those muscles are screaming, you need to spring out of bed, eat a quick breakfast and tackle the return trip – this time with shaky muscles.
- Bottled water – Our tour car driver insisted we buy two large bottles of water each at the last petrol station before Merzouga. This water was non-negotiable, carried on our own camels and secured by the camel driver.
- Sleeping Sheet – Enquire about bedding and linen when you book your trip. Ours was fine but I have heard of tours with just a rough blanket in winter and no linen in summer or winter. As it was very hot on our visit we packed satin sleeping bags purchased previously in Vietnam. They are light, comfy and didn’t take much space.
- Warm Sleeping Bag in Winter – if your tour company doesn’t provide adequate blankets – ask them but also read the reviews.
- Hat, Gloves, Warm Socks, Fleece and Thermals in winter!
- A power bank for charging – there won’t be electricity in camp.
Happy packing, and let me know if you are planning a desert trip!
Read this do-it-yourself 10 day Morocco Tour prepared by Sandy at Tray Tables Away.
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